Want to become strapless rider? Here you have some tips and advice to help you progress fast and safe
Previous level / skills
Before to move into strapless riding, we think you should be able to ride on a twintip, being able to go upwind. If your main goal strapless is to have a good level, then we recommend you that before to make the transition from twintip to a surfboard, to be able at least to go toe-side, pop / jump with your kite, and will help you a lot also if you are able to back-roll and front-roll in both ways. Sounds a lot, but is not so hard to achieve this level on a twintip with a bit of practice. If you move into strapless having all this under control with a twintip, you progression will be much faster than if you try to start directly with a surfboard under your feet. You will also spend sometime trying to recover your board, so it is a must to have your body-drag upwind under control!
Strapless kitesurfing equipment
Another factor to keep in mind for strapless riding is your equipment. To choose the right kite is very important to know what kind of spot you are gonna ride normally and decide according to it. For strapless riding you should run away from “C” shaped kites. The best kites to go into strapless are delta shape kites. This kites are powerful, fast and with a good and easy water relaunch. You need a powerful kite to get into the water with smaller kite than you would use on a twintip, like this you will get a faster kite and will be easier on the waves. Your de-power line on the bar should be long, as it is a key feature into wave riding and also strapless freestyle. Also, try to choose a bomb-proof kite construction kite, as if you crash your kite on waves it will suffer more.
The right board is a very important aspect on your learning curve. There are two different ways to practice strapless, one is wave riding and also strapless freestyle. Before choosing the right board for you, first question you have to think about is what sea / wind conditions you find normally at your spot as is not the same light wind than strong winds.
If you are starting with wave riding, your best choice would be a board with some more volume than the more advanced riders, as this help you to stay on the wave being able to focus more on your body and kite than the board. Normally kitesurf wave boards are smaller than regular surf boards, so is not a good idea to use your surf board. Will be easier as your first kite-surf board to choose a round tail. We don’t recommend leash, but if your spot has rocks or reef you probably should get one.
For strapless freestyle you need a noseless board, is good that it is a wide board and if it includes channels will make a big difference on your pop and landings. Also look for a good rocker, will make a big difference on choppy waters.
Other aspects regarding to your board are:
Pad Vs Wax. Normally, on the back of the board you will always find a pad and you will see that some people are using it also on the front and some others use wax. Pad is easier to ride with, so it is what we recommend for beginners as it will feel always on the same way. Wax gives you a more sensitive board and makes it feel more connected to you, but you will have to put wax very often and requires more work to put and clean it.
Different fins setups
Depending on the conditions of the spot and your preference, you can normally choose between 3-4-5 fins on your board.
3 fins setup (thruster) are good for waves with drops and is a good balance between grip and flow on any conditions. This is probably the best setup for freestyle.
4 fins setup (quad) has 2 fins on each side and no central one. Gives you faster turns and when you go into bigger waves normally you feel a bit less grip.
5 fins setup gives you this extra grip on waves, but depending on the conditions could be a bit too much.
The best advice is to go out there and try which one gives you a nicer feeling on the water! First advices and things to learn. One of the tricky parts if you are new into strapless is the water start. You will see a lot of people just standing infront of the board and jumping into it to water start. Thats cool and with sometime, you will be able to do it, but for your first rides it is easier just to do it floating (seated) on the water as you would do on a tiwntip.
A good advice to go upwind is to keep your stance a bit shorter than on a twintip and keep the weight distribution a bit more on the front than you would do normally on a twintip. Once you have your water start and upwind under control, it is time to go for transitions. The easiest one is to just make a transition with your kite and going from heel side to toe side. When you want to get back to heel side, the trick is to keep your kite high and press on the front foot hard just before to change them. Another transition is the one where you rotate your board but not your body. Just before the transition, you have to go a bit downwind with your kite high and barely without power on your kite. Your front foot rotates the board into your back and wind will make the rest, just change your feet, move your kite and ride away.
After you have a couple of transitions under control, it is time to get serious! You should start practicing your pop. On the firsts ones will help you a lot to use some choppy. To pop, as you probably know from twintip, all you have to do is press on your back leg, lift your front and try to put the board as upwind as you can. If you start to get some lift, you will have also to orient your board bottom into the wind. The next trick to keep progressing would be to jump and grab your board. This time you will use your kite to generate lift (as you do on a twintip). On the take off, it is important to bend your front leg and bring your board to your hand, remember, you don’t go to grab your board, your board is going into your hand. On the landing, remember to try to put your back foot on the board first and then your front.
And the last trick to keep you bussy for your next sessions would be a regular jump without using your hands to keep the board. You will use your kite to jump, pop and just after the take off, you have to turn your body and feet into the wind, to use the wind and keep your board pasted to them. Bend your legs as much as you can and try to invert your body upside down.
by Carla Herrera Oria